WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A former sergeant with the Purdue University Police Department is suing the university’s trustees for allegedly violating the Civil Rights Act, and two other former officers have made similar complaints.
So far, Sgt. Ryan Pyle is the only officer who has an official lawsuit against Purdue. But officers Tenecia Waddell and Michael Cochran are still waiting for their “right to sue” letters from the Department of Justice.
Waddell and Pyle were fired earlier this year. Cochran has also left the department.
According to court documents, Pyle claims Purdue retaliated against him after he discovered Cochran’s weapon had been tampered with while it was in the custody of the department.
Pyle reported it because he was aware of instances where African-American officers’ weapons were tampered with in the past. He claims Purdue police took no action in response to the tampering, but instead started investigating Pyle’s off-duty romantic relationship with African-American officer Waddell.
In response, the department allegedly placed Pyle on administrative leave and took his rifle and handgun away – which is not typically done when officers are placed on leave.
There is a policy forbidding relationships between officers. But the lawsuit claims Purdue police have overlooked officer relationships before, so long as neither officer was African-American.
Pyle is requesting financial relief and an order reinstating him to his position, rank, seniority and all other benefits of employment.
But Purdue stands by its decision, saying in a statement:
“Purdue denies Mr. Pyle’s claims, intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit, and will make clear in doing so that his termination was fully justified and based on nondiscriminatory reasons.”
Purdue says its legal office is reviewing an advance copy of the complaint.
The deadline for Purdue Trustees to respond to the claims is later this month, but Pyle’s lawyer Jason Ramsland says it’s likely trustees will file for an extension.